Blue Shark Skates to Save the Porbeagle

Torontonians Show their Support at Nathan Phillips Square

 Toronto-- Hector the Blue Shark appeared today for a skate on Toronto’s favourite outdoor rink in Nathan Phillips Square.  The spokesfish for the Friends of Hector campaign came to ask Torontonians to send a message to Canada’s government: stop obstructing international efforts to protect the endangered porbeagle shark.

The porbeagle spends much of its life in Canadian waters, and is often referred to as “Canada’s shark”.

Hector skated to raise awareness that Canada is the only country in the world that maintains a directed fishery of this endangered species, and to protest further shark finning.

At the 18th Special Meeting of the International Committee for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) November 12th-19th, 2012, Canada was the only country out of 48 Member States to maintain a directed fishery for the porbeagle shark.  In fact, Canada single-handedly blocked the consensus of the 47 other countries to stop fishing.

Over 20,000 Canadians sent letters to Acting Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Gail Shea, expressing outrage at Canada’s position.

“The Atlantic-wide ban, proposed by the EU at the 2012 ICAAT meeting, would have given the slow-to-reproduce shark the best chance to recover and help close loopholes allowing porbeagle fishing in international waters”, said Shannon Arnold, Marine Program Coordinator of the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax.  “We hope the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans will now take the decisive action Canadians demand.”

“The shark fin ban is another proud moment in Toronto’s history of speaking out against dumb policy, whether it’s women’s right to vote or the 1992 northern cod stock collapse.  Protecting the porbeagle shark is another chapter in the world-wide shark ecology movement”, said David Donnelly, principal at Donnelly Law.

On October 25, 2011, City Council enacted a by-law prohibiting the possession, sale and consumption of shark fin or shark fin food products within the City of Toronto.  The shark fin by-law, banning the consumption, sale and possession of shark fin or shark fin products, was declared invalid by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on November 30, 2012.




The porbeagle shark spends most of its life in Canadian waters, from northern Newfoundland and into the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Research has tracked the precipitous decline by up to 89% in Canadian waters.  Even without fishing, the porbeagle shark will take decades to recover to previous population levels.

The porbeagle shark was assessed as endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), but the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans did not follow the advice of this expert committee to list the porbeagle as endangered under the Species at Risk Act.  Canada is the only country in the Atlantic that maintains a directed fishery of this endangered species.  Fishing for porbeagles is banned in the European Union and the Mediterranean Sea.

Canada also allows hundreds of porbeagles to be landed as bycatch in fisheries that target other fish like swordfish and tuna.  In 2010, the total bycatch of porbeagle sharks was approximately 60 tonnes, three times the amount captured by Canada’s direct fishery.


For more information contact:

Shannon Arnold, Ecology Action Centre, 902-446-4840,


David Donnelly, Donnelly Law, 416-722-0220,

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